China is a big investor in Myanmar and prizes the access it offers to the Indian Ocean, but tensions have emerged in areas ranging from the suspension of a large Beijing-backed dam project to conflict spillover at the countries’ shared border.
“This trip fills in a blank for both sides,” said Yun Sun, a senior associate at Washington’s Stimson Center think-tank. “If Aung San Suu Kyi were not to visit China, it would leave a spot on her credentials. And if you are China, you want to have at least a superficially good relationship with the potential future kingmaker of Myanmar.”
The Nobel peace laureate will spend five days in China at the invitation of the Communist party. Beijing has yet to confirm reports from Myanmar of talks with President Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, prime minister.
Ms Suu Kyi’s long-flagged visit comes months before nationwide elections in Myanmar, the first since the military dictatorship of almost half a century stepped down in favour of a quasi-civilian government in 2011.
The trip comes weeks after Thura Shwe Mann, a former Myanmar junta number three who is now the speaker of parliament’s lower house, met President Xi in Beijing, noted Christian Lewis, an associate at Eurasia Group, the political risk analyst.
“The sequence of visits likely reflects the fact that Beijing sees Shwe Mann as the strongest candidate for Myanmar’s next president, but recognises the rising power and influence of Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD in legislative politics,” Mr Lewis said.
China’s relations with Myanmar were never better than when Ms Suu Kyi was a prisoner for 15 years in her own home and her then pariah state relied on its northern neighbour for investment and diplomatic support.
But Myanmar’s political opening has brought cooler relations with China, as gratitude for Beijing’s support mixes with anger at perceived abuses of its political and economic dominance.
Public protests led Myanmar’s government to stop work in 2011 on the Chinese — backed Myitsone dam in the north of the country, while villagers in the country’s northwest have faced violent security force crackdowns during years of rallies against the Chinese-operated Letpadaung copper mine.
China[will] want to have at least superficially good relationship with the future kingmaker of Myanmar
China’s own grievances were highlighted when its military last week launched rare live-ammunition exercises in a border region, close to where the Myanmar army is fighting with rebels on the other side of the frontier. Myanmar’s bombing of rebel positions had earlier spilled into China, killing villagers.
Perhaps the most sensitive aspect of Ms Suu Kyi’s visit is her status in the west as a pro-democracy figurehead of the kind jailed by China. Her fellow Nobel peace laureate, Liu Xiaobo, the only Chinese winner of the honour, is serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion”.
But US and European observers hoping for a ringing critique of Beijing’s policies are likely to be as disappointed as they are in Ms Suu Kyi’s reluctance to speak out for Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya people.
She has tended to avoid anti-Chinese rhetoric and, unlike many of her fellow Nobel Prize winners, has shied away more generally from condemning alleged human rights abuses around the globe.
“She certainly doesn’t want to be seen as anti-China, and I don’t see anything that suggests she actually is,” said Thant Myint-U, a historian and author who has worked with Myanmar’s government on its peace
process to end more than 60 years of civil conflict. “Her concerns have always been very domestic.”
First trip to Beijing is not quite a historic piece no doubt but for her survival as a viable politician probably there is no other way than to step out IN DARK ON the visit well understood even being in horns of dilemma took the risk of hazy future relationship with both West and EU countries.
This country basically had been long under covert protection of China. Though West and EU countries supported her during her days of suffering has to be accepted that those days are matters of bygone days. Both West and EU has to forget those days and start to assess her moves and politics afresh which would be better and more fruitful than to think she is a politician of a friendly democratic country.
Burmese, are generally racist, liars and highly conservatives and are master of changing sides. Aung San Suu Kyi’s problem is that she is colored as democratic but has to control a country that remained under dictatorship for a long period of time, so it would be easier for it to line up with the similar type of system.
West and EU analysts would make mistake to judge MYANMAR like other normal democratic countries. It is reported that it is a undercover making of a nuke country. This needs to be investigated.
Mayanmar should be addressed covertly as a communist country and overtly a democratic country until the political analysts after detail analysis confirms it to be really a democratic country and is in Democratic lobby
Having said the above any hard decision be taken after observing the out come of the visit and observance of her visit's impact..